Neur2BiLO: Neural Bilevel Optimization

Bilevel optimization deals with nested problems in which a leader takes the first decision to minimize their objective function while accounting for a follower best-response reaction. Constrained bilevel problems with integer variables are particularly notorious for their hardness.  While exact solvers have been proposed for mixed-integer~linear bilevel optimization, they tend to scale poorly with problem size and are hard to generalize to the non-linear case. On the other hand, problem-specific algorithms (exact and heuristic) are limited in scope.  Under a data-driven setting in which similar instances of a bilevel problem are solved routinely, our proposed framework, Neur2BiLO, embeds a neural network approximation of the leader's or follower's value function, trained via supervised regression, into an easy-to-solve mixed-integer program.  Neur2BiLO serves as a heuristic that produces high-quality solutions extremely fast for the bilevel knapsack interdiction problem, the "critical node problem'' from network security, a donor-recipient healthcare problem, and discrete network design from transportation planning. These problems are diverse in that they have linear or non-linear objectives/constraints and integer or mixed-integer variables, making Neur2BiLO  unique in its versatility.



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